As I slowly read Dante's Inferno I am reminded of the passage in the Wasteland where Eliot begins by quoting, as usual, without acknowledging his sources, first from Baudelaire and then from Dante.
Under the Brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs short and infrequent were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes upon his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where St Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine."
I have always loved those lines, which remind me of the time when I used to commute from Kent to Cannon Street, especially in winter when it was scarcely light, and when the train snaked into London, and I and my fellow commuters
plodded to work through the grey, City streets, as though we too were in the first circle of Hell. Line 2 is from Baudelaire, line 4 from The Inferno, canto 3, and line 5 from canto 4. How well Eliot manages to make the quotes his own and integrate them into the body of the poem as though they belong there, as now nearly hundred years after they were written, they do!
In the vegetable, garden this morning, a wind gets up, and suddenly leaves are falling and drifting around me, as though they are following stage directions.
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